|AMISOM peacekeepers on patrol after capturing the Elmaan seaport from al Shabaab insurgents on September 4th, 2012.|
Although Kismayo has been the site of U.S. drone attacks, its port still does a brisk business in sugar cane imports and charcoal exports. Tres Thomas, a Somalia analyst and PhD candidate at George Mason University, estimates that the port makes al Shabaab "tens of millions of dollars" a year and is the group's "most lucrative source of internal revenue." So Kismayo's possible fall is a big deal for the future of a particularly destabilizing terrorist insurgency. But how big?